Google Maps has been around for quite a while now. Since its inception it has undergone lot of improvements and it is by far the most powerful mapping system today. That doesn’t mean you can’t get more out of it. Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of this powerful system.
Create a personal map using My Maps
Google lets you create personalised maps to share with your friends and families.
To create your personal map head over to google.com/mymaps log in with your Google account to continue. You’ll get two options: Create a map and Open a map. Click on the first option to create a new map.
Start by naming your personal map by clicking the “Untitled map” heading at the top left > Enter a name and/or description > Save.
Begin personalising by clicking on “Add layer”. Use the search bar to quickly navigate to a point of interest for marking. Below the search bar are the tools that you can use to customise your map.
To start with, search for a place that you want to mention in your map, select “Add marker” from the tools and click on your place. Click on the marker to change the colour.
My Maps tools also allow you to draw lines on the map. There is a handy way to draw your personal driving route to denote a shortcut.
Make use of multiple layers
Each layer acts as a group which holds all the markers and drawings. You can assign each layer for similar type of markers. Example: If you want to denote places having concerts add it under the layer “Concerts”. Personalise your layer by clicking on “Individual styles” below your layer name. The styles are:
Individual Style - where every marker in the layer can be styled separately
Sequence of color and letters - you get the first point A=red, B=yellow, C=green, D=blue, etc. which is same for every layer. Uniform style - all the markers in one layer are styled similarly
Provide driving direction to your marker
To provide driving directions to the place denoted by your marker,
click on your marker > “Directions to here”.
Use My Map to denote an event
An event or a festival detailed by a driving map is a boon for many visitors. Now that you’ve learnt how to make a custom map you can use the same to create a map for any event. Make the use of the various layers you are offered. The layers come handy when you are mapping event location for different days. Assign each layer for a day and you can make the map clutter-free and easy to understand.
Pin your address book on My Maps
If you have an address book with an “Address” field in it you can easily pin people on the map. This gives you a visual representation of their address which otherwise might be difficult to find. For this you need to export your address book as a spreadsheet (XLSX or CSV).
create a New Map > Import > Select the file from your computer.
Once the uploading is completed you’ll be asked to choose the field (column) which represents the address in the spreadsheet. That being done Google Maps will automatically pinpoint the places in the map.
Easily embed your personal map
You can share your personal map easily by embedding it on your site or in your email. To do that open your personal map and in the left panel where you see your layers hit
Share > Embed on my site > copy the HTML tag provided and paste it where you want.
Get an offline map
Unlike other map services Google doesn’t offer their entire database offline, however, it has given you the option to download a particular area for offline viewing. This comes handy when you are travelling and you don’t want to be charged roaming data to download maps. To download a map on your phone search for the area you want to download.
Hit “Download” located at the right of the page > mark the area you want to include > Download > give an appropriate name > Save. The downloading will start and your map will be included in the offline list.
go to side menu > Offline areas > Tap the “+” button > select an area > Download.
Try Time Travel
Putting its old photo database to interesting use Google adds time travel to Google Maps. Time travel is a part of Street View where you’ll be able to see a popular place through the years. Due a to limited database this feature is restricted to popular places only.
To try Time Travel search for a popular place (ex. London Eye) >
See inside > click on the clock icon followed by a date located at the top left corner. It will present you with the available archives for the particular place. You can select them by sliding the timeline accordingly.
Modify map history
Google keeps the track of your Maps activities. It includes everything from the places you searched to the places you reviewed. It is possible to delete the entire history as well as selected searches. In order to selectively delete your history
click on the side menu > Settings > Maps history. Click
on the X button next to the entry that you want to delete and hit Delete.
Use Google Maps like an FPS gamer
Moving along a road in Street View using a mouse will be painful. Thankfully Google has given us keyboard shortcuts to do the same. In addition to the obvious arrow keys, these shortcuts include the WASD keys which any FPS gamer would feel right at home using. You can move forward and backward using the “W” and “S” key respectively, and “A” and “D” key will let you turn left and right.
See your timeline
Google keeps a track of all the places you have visited if your location services are turned on. All this data is systematically presented in the form of timeline.
To see your timeline
click on the side menu > Your timeline. You can also add, remove or edit a place manually to your timeline.
Use God Mode
Google Maps is integrated with Google Earth. With this you can quickly jump between the maps as well as satellite imagery of an area. What’s interesting in this is the so called God Mode. Once you switch to Google Earth satellite imagery, you’ll see an icon called “Tilt the View” on the right-side This will tilt the view and will let you fly anywhere in the world. To make this cooler hold [CRTL] and pivot around any axis using your mouse. You’ll get a virtual god-like journey around the Earth. Furthermore, you can also click on any building to get its information card.
Watch real-time traffic
The traffic information that Google Maps offers is one of its best features – something that we all love. However, this is the typical traffic information that Maps uses which is based on historical data rather than real time data. To deal with this Google has added Live traffic information that will provide you accurate traffic information beforehand.
To get live traffic information
click on the burger menu > Traffic. An overlay will appear at the bottom centre which will allow you to choose between Typical and Live traffic.
Let Google Maps predict directions for you
Google Maps revealed an interesting feature called Driving Mode in its last update for Android. Driving Mode is compiled with intelligent machine learning algorithms that will predict where you want to go based on the time of the day and your previous searches. However, it is restricted to Google Maps users from U.S., United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore only. India will be on the list soon.
To access this feature, add Driving Mode shortcut to your homescreen by long pressing the
homescreen > Android widgets > select Google Maps driving shortcut. To access from the Maps app go to
menu > select “Start Driving’.
Don’t miss the last trains and buses
In some places the trains or buses don’t run all night long which could be problematic. Fortunately this hidden Google Maps feature will let you know the time of the last train or bus on the particular route. To check this, set the source and
destination of your journey > choose the train icon > click on “Settings icon” > Last > Done.
Use indoor maps
If you are unaware Google added indoor maps to Google Maps some time ago. Currently these indoor maps are available in selected locations only. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the locations ready with indoor maps.
Make use of Lite mode
If your Google Maps experience is sluggish it’s possible that your computer is not able to handle the heavy rendering cost on your system. In such cases Google automatically switches you to the “Lite” version of Google maps. Lite version brings you back to the classic Google maps eliminating 3D buildings, current location, etc. You can force switch to the Lite version by firing this URL.
Try these voice commands
Ok Google, next step
Ok Google, what’s my next turn
Ok Google, unmute
Ok Google, when will I get there
Ok Google, find gas stations
Ok Google, exit navigation
Ok Google, resume navigation
Ok Google, show route overview
Ok Google, Show alternate routes
Search for restaurants, gas stations, etc along your route
Another handy feature that made its way recently to Google Maps is the ability to search for places along your route. If you are dedicated Google Maps user already, you’ll know how painful it is to search for a place along a route. You had to stop the navigation, check for the place and then start the navigation from the scratch. However, with the latest update for Maps on Android you’ve been offered a feature to allow for pit stops and detours in navigation mode.
To make use of this, start your navigation and tap the floating search button that appears on the right side. You’ll see a list of places like Gas stations, Restaurants, Grocery stores, Coffee shops, and a search button to find custom places too. Use these buttons to quickly search for places along the route.
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